Obrazy na stronie
PDF

thoughts upon one object. Let your pen fall, begin to trifle with blotting-paper, look at the ceiling, bite your nails, and otherwise dally with your purpose, and you waste your time, scatter your thoughts, and repress the nervous energy necessary for your task. Some men dally and dally, hesitate and trifle until the last possible moment, and when the printer's boy is knocking at the door, they begin: necessity goading them, they write with singular rapidity, and with singular success; they are astonished at themselves. What is the secret? Simply this; they have had no time to hesitate. , Concentrating their powers upon the one object before them, they have done what they could do. Impatient reader ! if I am tedious, forgive me. These lines may meet the eyes of some to whom they are specially addressed, and may awaken thoughts in their minds not unimportant to their future career. Forgive me, if only because I have taken what is called the prosaic side I have not flattered the shallow sophisms which would give a gloss to idleness and incapacity. I have not availed myself of the splendid tirades, so easy to write, about the glorious privileges of genius. My ‘preaching’ may be very ineffectual, but at any rate it advocates the honest dignity of labour; let my cause excuse my tediousness.

Mr Lewes is a native of London, born in 1817. He received his education partly abroad and partly from Dr Burney at Greenwich. Being intended for a mercantile life, he was placed in the office of a Russian merchant, but soon abandoned it for the medical profession. From this he was driven, it is said, by a feeling of horror at witnessing surgical operations, and he took to literature as a profession. His principal works are a Biographical History of Philosophy, four volumes, 1845; The Spanish Drama, Lope de Vega and Calderon, 1846; Life of Maximilien Robespierre, 1849; Exposition of the Principles of the Cours de Philosophie positif of Auguste Comte, 1853; The Life and Works of Goethe, two volumes, 1855; Sea-side Studies at Ilfracombe, Tenby, the Scilly Isles, and Jersey, 1857; the Physiology of Common Life, &c. Mr Lewes has also been an extensive contributor to the reviews and other periodicals; and he is said to have edited for nearly five years a weekly paper, The Leader.

[ocr errors]

A clever serial production, The Greatest Plague of Life, being the adventures of a mistress in search of a good servant, was produced by HENRY and AUGUSTU's MAYHEw, brothers, and extensive miscellaneous writers. From the same copartnery proceeded Whom to Marry and How to get Married, The Image of his Brother, and Paved with Gold. Mr Henry Mayhew (the elder brother, born in London in 1812) was one of the gentlemen employed by the Morning Chronicle in investigations concerning ‘Labour and the Poor, and his contributions, published separately under the title of London Labour and the London Poor, 1851, contain a mass of statistical and curious information. The same gentleman has also written Word-painting from the Rhine, 1856; and he was one of the original writers in Punch. A younger brother, HoRACE MAYHEw, is also one of the Punch contributors, and has written a number of light pieces, the most popular of which was Letters Left at the Pastry-cook's. Another brother, THOMAs MAYHEw, commenced the Penny National Library, and otherwise distinguished himself in the service of cheap literature; and a fifth brot: EDwARD MAYHEw, is also connected with

periodical literature, and author of some veterinary works. In the department of old English or antiquarian fiction, MR FolkESTONE WILLIAMS has obtained celebrity by his tales of £ and his Friends, The Youth of Shakspeare, Maids of Honour, The Luttrels, &c. He has also written Memoirs of Sophia Dorothea, The Court of James I., The Court of Charles I., &c. Among the ‘stories of our own time’ is Aspen Court, 1855, by SHIRLEY BRooks. This novel displays knowledge of the world, as well as originality of thought, and the style is easy and often brilliant. Mr Brooks was engaged by the proprietors of the Morning Chronicle to investigate the condition of the cultivators in the south of Russia, Asia Minor, and Egypt, and part of the letters written at that time have been published under the title of The Russians of the South. For several years Mr Brooks has been one of the regular writers of Punch. He appears equally at home in verse and prose—in light airy satire and acute suggestive remark. The Green Hand, a sea story, by GEORGE CUPPLEs (1856), relates the adventures of a naval lieutenant, and is full of romantic and humorous incident. It has enjoyed immense popularity. MR J. C. JEAFFRESON has since 1854 produced three novels—Crew Rise, Isabel, and Miriam Copley. The best feature in these works is that they are of the real school—copies from nature. In the same plain outspoken manner Mr Jeaffreson has written Novels and Novelists, from Elizabeth to Victoria, two volumes, 1858. Alfred Staunton, by J. STANYAN BIGG (1859), may be distinguished from the countless throng of new novels by its possessing thought and literary power, without skilful construction or regularity. The sketches of society and scenery in Cumberland drawn by Mr Bigg, are fresh and evidently true to nature. The novelist is also a poet: his Night and the Soul, a dramatic poem, 1854, is of the style of Bailey's Mystic. Two novels by MR GEORGE MEREDITH-The Shaving of Shagpat, 1856, and The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, is59—possess originality and interest. The first is called “an Arabian entertainment, and is thoroughly Eastern in colouring and costume. The second is an English story, illustrating the folly and misery of a perverted, unnatural system of moral training and education. COLONEL EDwARD BRUCE HAMLEY, of the Royal Artillery, is author of Lady Lee's Widowhood, a novel originally published in Blackwood's Magazine, and reprinted in a separate form in two volumes, 1854. This is a lively, spirited story, and was hailed as a remarkable first work. Colonel Hamley also contributed to Blackwood a narrative of the war in Southern Russia, written in a tent in the Crimea, and since published with the title of The Story of the Campaign, 1855. MR FRANCIs E. SMEDLEY, an extensive miscellaneous writer in the periodicals, has published two popular novels—Frank Fairlegh, 1850, and Harry Coverdale's Courtship, 1854–5. Tom Brown's School-days, by an Old Boy, 1857, gives an excellent account of Rugby School under Dr Arnold; also some delightful sketches of scenery, rural customs, and sports in Berkshire. The hero, Tom Brown, is the son of a Berkshire squire; he is genial, good-humoured, and high-spirited; he fights his way nobly at Rugby, and battles against bullying, tossing, and other evils of our public schools. The tone and feeling of the volume are admirable, and it is pleasant to see so healthy and wise a book—for so it may be termed—in its sixth edition within twelve months. The same author has still further commemorated his beloved Berkshire in The Scouring of the White Horse, or the Long Vacation Ramble of a London Clerk, 1858. In this work the country games, traditions, and antiquarian associations of Berkshire are described. the gentleman, and to hide her shame. The account of her wanderings and her meditated suicide, is related with affecting minuteness and true pathos. Hetty is comforted by the gentle Methodist enthusiast, Dinah Morris, who at last becomes the wife of Adam Bede. The other characters in the novel are all distinct, well-defined individuals. The vicar of the parish, Mr Irvine, the old bachelor schoolmaster, Bartle Massey, and Mr and Mrs Poyser of the Hall Farm, are striking, lifelike portraits. Mrs Poyser is an original, rich in proverbial philosophy, good sense, and amusing volubility. The following is a discussion on matrimony,

[The Browns.]

The Browns have become illustrious by the pen of Thackeray and the pencil of Doyle, within the memory of the young gentlemen who are now matriculating at the universities. Notwithstanding the well-merited but late fame which has now fallen upon them, any one at all acquainted with the family must feel that much has yet to be written and said before the British nation will be properly sensible of how much of its greatness it owes to the Browns. For centuries, in their quiet, dogged, home-spun way, they have been subduing the earth in most English counties, and leaving their mark in American forests and Australian uplands. Wherever the fleets and armies of England have won renown, there stalwart sons of the Browns have done yeomen's work. With the yew-bow and cloth-yard shaft at Cressy and Agincourt—with the brown bill and pike under the brave Lord Willoughby—with culverin and demi-culverin against Spaniards and Dutchmen—with hand-grenade and sabre, and musket and bayonet under Rodney and St Vincent, Wolfe and Moore, Nelson and Wellington, they have carried their lives in their hands; getting hard knocks and hard work in plenty, which was on the whole what they looked for, and the best thing for them: and little praise or pudding, which indeed they, and most of us, are better without. Talbots and Stanleys, St Maurs and such-like folk, have led armies and made laws time out of mind; but those noble families would be somewhat astounded—if the accounts ever came to be fairly taken—to find how small their work for England has been by the side of that of the Browns.

The author of Tom Brown's School-days is understood to be Thomas Hughes, Esq., a Chancery barrister, son of John Hughes, Esq., of Oriel College, Oxford, author of the Itinerary of Provence, and editor of the Boscobel Tracts. Sir Walter Scott pronounced this gentleman ‘a poet, a draughtsman, and a scholar. The once famous ballad of The One-horse Shay, and other political jeux d'esprits in John Bull, were by the elder Mr Hughes.

GEORGE ELIOT,

Under this name, acknowledged to be fictitious, some modest novelist has published Scenes of Clerical Life, two volumes, 1858, and Adam Bede, three volumes, 1859. The latter work has had remarkable success, five editions having been exhausted almost within as many months. The story is of the Real school, as humble in most of its characters and as faithful in its portraiture as Jane Eyre. The opening sentences disclose the worldly condition of the hero, and form a fine piece of English painting. The scene is the workshop of a carpenter in a village, and the date of the story 1799.

[Description of Adam Bede.]

The afternoon sun was warm on the five workmen there, busy upon doors and window-frames and wainscotting. A scent of pine-wood from a tent-like pile of planks outside the open door mingled itself with the scent of the elder-bushes which were spreading their summer

snow close to the open window opposite; the slanting sunbeams shone through the transparent shavings that flew before the steady plane, and lit up the fine grain of the oak panelling which stood propped against the wall. On a heap of those soft shavings a rough gray shepherddog had made himself a pleasant bed, and was lying with his nose between his fore-paws, occasionally wrinkling his brows to cast a glance at the tallest of the five workmen, who was carving a shield in the centre of a wooden mantel-piece. It was to this workman that the strong barytone belonged which was heard above the sound of plane and hammer singing:

“Awake my soul, and with the sun Thy daily stage of duty run; Shake off dull sloth" . . . Here some measurement was to be taken which required more concentrated attention, and the sonorous voice subsided into a low whistle; but it presently broke out again with renewed vigour: ‘Let all thy converse be sincere, Thy conscience as the noonday clear.’

Such a voice could only come from a broad chest, and the broad chest belonged to a large-boned muscular man, nearly six feet high, with a back so flat and a head so well poised, that when he drew himself up to take a more distant survey of his work, he had the air of a soldier standing at ease. The sleeve rolled up above the elbow shewed an arm that was likely to win the prize for feats of strength; yet the long supple hand, with its bony finger-tips, looked ready for works of skill. In his tall stalwartness Adam Bede was a Saxon, and justified his name; but the jet-black hair, made the more noticeable by its contrast with the light paper-cap, and the keen glance of the dark eyes that shone from under strongly-marked, prominent, and mobile eyebrows, indicated a mixture of Celtic blood.

[merged small][ocr errors]

It is of little use for me to tell you that Hetty's cheek was like a rose-petal, that dimples played about her pouting lips, that her large dark eyes had a soft roguishness under their long lashes, and that her curly hair, though all pushed back under her round cap while she was at work, stole back in dark delicate rings on her forehead and about her white shell-like ears; it is of little use for me to say how lovely was the contour of her pink and white neckerchief, tucked into her low plum-coloured stuff bodice; or how the linen buttermaking apron, with its bib, seemed a thing to be imitated in silk by duchesses, since it fell in such charming lines; or how her brown stockings and thicksoled buckled shoes, lost all that clumsiness which they must certainly have had when empty of her foot and ankle; of little use, unless you have seen a woman who affected you as Hetty affected her beholders, for otherwise, though you might conjure up the image of a lovely woman, she would not in the least resemble that distracted kitten-like maiden. Hetty’s was a spring-tide beauty; it was the beauty of young frisking things, round-limbed, gamboling, circumventing you by a false air of innocence—the innocence of a young star-browed calf, for example, that, being inclined for a promenade out of bounds, leads you a severe steeplechase over hedge and ditch, and only comes to a stand in the middle of a bog.

[blocks in formation]

the interlocutors being the schoolmaster, the gardener, and Mr and Mrs Poyser: [Dialogue on Matrimony.] “What!” said Bartle, with an air of disgust. “Was

there a woman concerned? Then I give you up, Adam.’ “But it’s a woman you'n spoke well on, Bartle, said Mr Poyser. ‘Come, now, you canna draw back; you said once as women wouldna ha’ been a bad invention if they’d all been like Dinah.' ‘I meant her voice, man-I meant her voice, that was all, said Bartle. “I can bear to hear her speak without wanting to put wool in my ears. As for other things, I daresay she’s like the rest o' the women— thinks two and two’ll come to make five, if she cries and bothers enough about it.’ ‘Ay, ay!' said Mrs Poyser; ‘one’ud think, an' hear some folk talk, as the men war 'cute enough to count the corns in a bag o' wheat wi' only smelling at it. They can see through a barn-door, they can, Perhaps that's the reason they can see so little o' this side on’t.’ Martin Poyser shook with delighted laughter, and winked at Adam, as much as to say the schoolmaster was in for it now. “Ah!” said Bartle sneeringly, “the women are quick enough—they’re quick enough. They know the rights of a story before they hear it, and can tell a man what his thoughts are before he knows 'em himself.” “Like enough, said Mrs Poyser; ‘for the men are mostly so slow, their thoughts overrun 'em, an’ they can only catch 'em by the tail. I can count a stocking-top while a man’s getting's tongue ready; an' when he out wi' his speech at last, there’s little broth to be made on't. It's your dead chicks take the longest hatchin'. Howiver, I'm not denyin' the women are foolish: God Almighty made 'em to match the men.’ ‘Match !” said Bartle; ‘ay, as vinegar matches one's teeth. If a man says a word, his wife’ll match it with a contradiction; if he's a mind for hot meat, his wife’ll match it with cold bacon; if he laughs, she’ll match him with whimpering. She's such a match as the horsefly is to th’ horse: she’s got the right venom to sting him with—the right venom to sting him with.' ‘Yes,’ said Mrs Poyser, “I know what the men likea poor soft, as 'ud simper at 'em like the pictur o' the sun, whether they did right or wrong, an’ say thank you for a kick, an' pretend she didna know which end she stood uppermost, till her husband told her. That’s what a man wants in a wife, mostly: he wants to make sure o' one fool as 'll tell him he’s wise. But there's some men can do wi'out that—they think so much o' themselves a'ready—an' that’s how it is there’s old bachelors.” ‘Come, Craig, said Mr Poyser jocosely, “you mun get married pretty quick, else you’ll be set down for an old bachelor; an' you see what the women’ull think on ou.’ “Well, said Mr Craig, willing to conciliate Mrs Poyser, and setting a high value on his own compliments, “I like a cleverish woman—a woman o' sperrit* "#ing woman.’

‘You’re out there, Craig, said Bartle dryly; ‘you’re out there. You judge o' your garden-stuff on a better plan than that; you pick the things for what they can excel in—for what they can excel in. You don’t value your peas for their roots, or your carrots for their flowers. Now that’s the way you should choose women: their cleverness’ll never come to much-never come to much; but they make excellent simpletons, ripe and strong flavoured.’

‘What dost say to that?’ said Mr Poyser, throwing himself back and looking merrily at his wife.

“Say!’ answered Mrs Poyser, with dangerous fire kindling in her eye; ‘why, I say as some folk's tongues are like the clocks as run on strikin', not to tell you the time o' the day, but because there’s summat wrong i' their own inside.”

[Family Likeness.]

Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it. Nature, that great tragic dramatist, knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us by the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning and repulsion; and ties us by our heart-strings to the beings that jar us at every movement. We hear a voice with the very cadence of our own, uttering the thoughts we despise; we see eyes —ah ! so like our mother's—averted from us in cold alienation; and our last darling child startles us with the air and gestures of the sister we parted from in bitterness long years ago. The father, to whom we owe our best heritage—the mechanical instinct, the keen sensibility to harmony, the unconscious skill of the modelling hand—galls us, and puts us to shame by his daily errors; the long-lost mother, whose face we begin to see in the glass as our own wrinkles come, once fretted our young souls with her anxious humours and irrational persistence.

In closing these extracts from the novelists, we may note some results brought out by Professor Masson in his work on British Novelists, 1859. Since the death of Sir Walter Scott, the annual number of British novels has been quadrupled, as compared with what it was when he was in the middle of his Waverley series, having risen from twenty-six a year, or a new novel every fortnight, to about one hundred a year, or two new novels nearly every week. In all, there have been about 3000 novels, making about 7000 separate volumes, produced in these islands, since the publication of Waverley in 1814.

[ocr errors][merged small]

At the close of the French revolutionary war, countless multitudes were drawn from every part of Europe to Paris to witness the meeting of the allied sovereigns in 1814. Among them was “one young man who had watched with intense interest the progress of the war from his earliest years, and who, having hurried from his paternal roof in Edinburgh on the first cessation of hostilities, then conceived the first idea of narrating its events, and amidst its wonders inhaled that ardent spirit, that deep enthusiasm which, sustaining him through fifteen subsequent years of travel and study, and fifteen more of composition, has at length realised itself in the present history. The work thus characteristically referred to by its author, Mr, now SIR ARCHIBALD ALIsoN, is The History of Europe, from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Restoration of the Bourbons, ten volumes, 1839–42, and which has since, in various forms, gone through nine editions. As a vast storehouse of facts and details relating to the most important and memorable period in modern history, this work is valuable. The ardour and enthusiasm of the author bore him bravely over the wide and intricate fields he had to traverse. His narrative is generally animated, and his account of battles, and sieges, and great civil events, related with spirit and picturesque effect. Having visited

Sir Archibald Alison.

most of the localities described, many interesting minute touches and graphic illustrations have been added by the historian from personal observation, or the statements of eye-witnesses on the spot; and he appears to have been diligent and conscientious in consulting written authorities. The defects of the work are, however, considerable. The style is often careless, turgid, and obscure; and the high Tory prejudices of the author, with certain opinions on the Currency question—the influence of which he greatly exaggerates—render him often a tedious as well as unsafe guide. His moral reflections and deductions are mostly superfluous, and quite unworthy of the author of the narrative portions of the history. In a few instances he has been accused by his own Conservative friends of extracting military details from questionable sources, and forming rash judgments on questions of strategy. Thus he maintains that in the great campaign of 1815, Napoleon “surprised, out-manoeuvred, and out-generaled’ both Wellington and Blucher—a position which does not seem well supported, but which at least evinces the historian's determination to think for himself, and not to sacrifice his convictions to party. In describing the causes which led to the French Revolution, he also enumerates fairly the enormous wrongs and oppressions under which the people laboured; but with singular inconsistency he adds, that the immediate source of the convulsion was the spirit of innovation which overspread France. Carlyle more correctly assigns famine as the ‘immediate cause—the unprecedented

scarcity and dearness of provisions; but, of course, a variety of other elements entered into the formation of that great convulsion. Some of the features of the Revolution are well drawn by Alison. The small number of persons who perpetrated the atrocities in Paris, and the apathy of the great body of the citizens he thus describes:

[The French Revolutionary Assassins.]

The small number of those who perpetrated these murders in the French capital under the eyes of the legislature, is one of the most instructive facts in the history of revolutions. Marat had long before said, that with 200 assassins at a louis a day, he would govern France, and cause 300,000 heads to fall; and the events of the 2d September seemed to justify the opinion. The number of those actually engaged in the massacres did not exceed 300; and twice as many more witnessed and encouraged their proceedings; yet this handful of men governed Paris and France, with a despotism which three hundred thousand armed warriors afterwards strove in vain to effect. The immense majority of the well-disposed citizens, divided in opinion, irresolute in conduct, and dispersed in different quarters, were incapable of arresting a band of assassins, engaged in the most atrocious cruelties of which modern Europe has yet afforded an example—an important warning to the strenuous and the good in every succeeding age, to combine for defence the moment that the aspiring and the desperate have begun to agitate the public mind, and never to trust that mere smallness of numbers can be relied on for preventing reckless ambition from destroying irresolute virtue. It is not less worthy of observation, that these atrocious massacres took place in the heart of a city where above 50,000 men were enrolled in the National Guard, and had arms in their hands; a force specifically destined to prevent insurrectionary movements, and support, under all changes, the majesty of the law. They were so divided in opinion, and the revolutionists composed so large a part of their number, that nothing whatever was done by them, either on the 10th August, when the king, was dethroned, or the 2d September, when the prisoners were massacred. This puts in a forcible point of view the weakness of such a force, which, being composed of citizens, is distracted by their feelings, and actuated by their passions. In ordinary times, it may exhibit an imposing array, and be adequate to the repression of the smaller disorders; but it is paralysed by the events which throw society into convulsions, and generally fails at the decisive moment when its aid is most required.

Another specimen of the author's style of summary and reflection may be given:

[The Reign of Terror.]

Thus terminated the Reign of Terror, a period fraught with greater political instruction than any of equal duration which has existed since the beginning of the world. In no former period had the efforts of the people so completely triumphed, or the higher orders teen so thoroughly crushed by the lower. The throne had been overturned, the altar destroyed: the aristocracy levelled with the dust, the nobles were in exile, the clergy in captivity, the gentry in affliction. . A merciless sword had waved over the state, destroying alike the dignity of rank, the splendour of talent, and the graces of beauty. All that excelled the labouring classes in situation, fortune, or acquirement, had been removed; they had triumphed over their oppressors, seized their possessions, and risen into their stations. And what was the consequence? The establishment of a more cruel and revolting tyranny than a":"

|

[graphic]

mankind had yet witnessed; the destruction of all the charities and enjoyments of life; the dreadful spectacle of streams of blood flowing through every part of France. The earliest friends, the warmest advocates, the firmest supporters of the people, were swept off indiscriminately with their bitterest enemies; in the unequal struggle, virtue and philanthropy sunk under ambition and violence, and society returned to a state of chaos, when all the elements of private or public happiness were scattered to the winds. Such are the results of unchaining the passions of the multitude; such the peril of suddenly admitting the light upon a benighted people. The extent to which blood was shed in France during this melancholy period, will hardly be credited by future ages. The Republican Prudhomme, whose prepossessions led him to anything rather than an exaggeration of the horrors of the popular party, has given the following appalling account of the victims of the Revolution:

Nobles, . - • 1,278 Noble women, . - - • 750 Wives of labourers and artisans, . 1,467 Religieuses, - - - - *0 - * * - - - . 1,135 Common persons, not noble, . 13,623 Guillotined by sentence of the Revolutionary Tribunal, . • - 18,603 18,603 Women died of premature childbirth, - 3,400 In childbirth from grief, - - - 348 Women killed in La Vendée, 15,000 Children killed in La Vendée, 22,000 Men slain in La Vendée, . • 900,000 Victims under Carrier at Nantes, - 32,000 Children shot, - - - - 500 Children drowned, . * 1,500 # | Women shot, - - 264 5 j Women drowned, . . . 500 * . Priests shot, . - • • 300 $ j Priests drowned, - - - 460 i Nobles drowned, . - - . 1,400 U.Artisans drowned, . - - 5,300 Victims at Lyon, . • 31,000 Total, . . . 1,022,351

In this enumeration are not comprehended the massacres at Wersailles, at the Abbey, the Carmes, or other prisons on September 2, the victims of the Glacière of Avignon, those shot at Toulon and Marseille, or the persons slain in the little town of Bedoin, of which the whole population perished. It is in an especial manner remarkable in this dismal catalogue, how large a proportion of the victims of the Revolution were persons in the middling and lower ranks of life. The priests and nobles guillotined are only 2413, while the persons of plebeian origin exceed 13,000 ! The nobles and priests put to death at Nantes were only 2160; while the infants drowned and shot are 2000, the women 764, and the artisans 5300 ! So rapidly in revolutionary convulsions does the career of cruelty reach the lower orders, and so wide-spread is the carnage dealt out to them, compared with that which they have sought to inflict on their superiors. The facility with which a faction, composed of a few of the most audacious and reckless of the nation, triumphed over the immense majority of their fellow-citizens, and led them forth like victims to the sacrifice, is not the least extraordinary or memorable part of that eventful period. The bloody faction at Paris never exceeded a few hundred men; their talents were by no means of the highest order, nor their weight in society considerable; yet they trampled under foot all the influential classes, ruled mighty armies with absolute sway, kept 200,000 of their fellow-citizens in captivity, and daily led out several hundred persons, of, the best blood in France, to execution. Such is the effect of the unity of action which atrocious wickedness produces; such the ascendency which in periods of anarchy is acquired by the most savage and lawless of the people. The peaceable and £ive citizens lived and wept in silence; terror

crushed every attempt at combination; the extremity of grief subdued even the firmest hearts. In despair at effecting any change in the general sufferings, apathy universally prevailed, the people sought to bury their sorrows in the delirium of present enjoyments, and the theatres were never fuller than during the whole duration of the Reign of Terror. Ignorance of human nature can alone lead us to ascribe this to any peculiarity in the French character; the same effects have been observed in all parts and ages of the world, as invariably attending a state of extreme and long-continued distress. The death of Hebert and the anarchists was that of guilty depravity; that of Robespierre and the Decemvirs, of sanguinary fanaticism; that of Danton and his confederates, of stoical infidelity; that of Madame Roland and the Girondists, of deluded virtue; that of Louis and his family, of religious forgiveness. The moralist will contrast the different effects of virtue and wickedness in the last moments of life; the Christian will mark with thankfulness the superiority in the supreme hour to the sublimest efforts of human virtue, which was evinced by the believers in his own faith.

A continuation has been made to this work—The History of Europe from the Fall of Napoleon in 1815 to the Accession of Louis Napoleon in 1852, eight volumes, 1852–59. The author, however, had not exercised much care in this compilation. It is hastily and inaccurately written, and is disfigured by blunders, omissions, and inconsistencies. Some of the author's opinions or crotchets are pushed to a ridiculous extreme, as his delusion that most of the political changes of the last thirty years—the abolition of the corn-laws, Catholic emancipation, and parliamentary reform—may all be traced to the act of 1826 which interdicted the further issue of £1 and £2 bank-notes! The diffuse style of narrative which was felt as a drawback on the earlier history, is still more conspicuous in this continuation—no doubt from want of time and care in the laborious work of condensation. The other writings of our author-exclusive of pamphlets on Freetrade and the Currency—are a Life of Marlborough, 1847 (afterwards greatly enlarged in the second edition, 1852), and Essays, Political, Historical, and Miscellaneous, three volumes, 1850. Sir Archibald is the eldest son of the Rev. Archibald Alison, author of the Essay on Taste, &c. He was born in 1792, studied in Edinburgh, and was called to the bar in 1814. In 1834 he received the legal appointment he now holds, that of Sheriff of Lanarkshire, and was created a baronet in 1852. Besides his historical works, Sir Archibald has written treatises on the principles and practice of the criminal law of Scotland.

[ocr errors]

The celebrated American historian, WILLIAM HICKLING PREscorT, was born at Salem, Massachusetts, May 4, 1796. His father was an eminent judge and lawyer. While a student in Harvard College, a slight accident threatened to deprive the future historian of sight, and in the result proved a severe interruption to his studies. One of his fellowcollegians threw a crust of bread at him, which struck one of his eyes, and deprived it almost wholly of sight, while the other was sympathetically affected. He travelled partly for medical advice, and visited England, France, and Italy, remaining absent about two years. On his return to the United States, he married and settled in Boston. His first literary production was an essay on Italian Narrative Poetry, contributed in 1824 to the North American Review,

h. PRESCOTT.

« PoprzedniaDalej »